Sunday, November 6, 2011

Weekend Box Office (11/06/11): Puss in Boots tops again with record hold, while Tower Heist and A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas slightly underperform.

 Well it looks like the answer to last weekend's big question was "B".  Dreamworks did indeed trade one boffo opening weekend for two rock-solid weekends after all.  Last weekend, after being moved onto Halloween weekend at the last minute, Puss In Boots (review and trailer) debuted with a mediocre (for Dreamworks Animation) $34 million.  I speculated that perhaps Dreamworks simply was hoping to have an extra weekend before facing off against Happy Feet 2 (November 18th) and were hoping to use positive word of mouth to fuel a strong hold this weekend as well.  Puss In Boots topped the box office again, with another $33 million.  That's a drop of 3% from last weekend.  The Shrek spin-off pulled in the smallest second weekend drop for a Dreamworks animated film of all-time, behind only the 0.2% rise of the first Shrek, which had the Memorial Day weekend holiday behind it.  In fact, give-or-take how the final numbers measure up to the 3.6% drop of the second weekend of The Sixth Sense, and the 2.8% increase for My Dog Skip (coming off just a $5 million debut , Puss In Boots may have snagged the record for the smallest second-weekend drop for a non-Holiday weekend.

Among Dreamworks animated features, the only Fall release to have a bigger second weekend was Madagascar 2, which opened on this weekend back in 2008 with $63 million and fell 44% to $35 million in weekend two.  Among all Dreamworks animated films, the only bigger second weekends are the Shrek films, the aforementioned Madagascar 2 and Kung Fu Panda ($33.6 million coming off a $60 million debut).  So what we're seeing is a Dreamworks cartoon that had one of the lower opening weekends in recent history but had among the bigger second weekends ever for the studio.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is what legs are.  And that is what can happen when you make a surprisingly good movie.  The picture has $75 million in ten days, which doesn't set any records among the Dreamworks catalog.  But it should hold up just fine next weekend too, as the new releases (Jack and Jill and Immortals) are not quite as family-friendly (EDIT - I did not even realize that Jack and Jill was rated PG, so perhaps I am mistaken about its demographics).  It should crack $100 million next weekend, while how it fares against Happy Feet 2 and the onslaught of family fare over Thanksgiving (Muppets, Hugo, Arthur Christmas) will determine if it's a $150 million domestic grosser or a $200 million domestic grosser.  Regardless, this is a shockingly good second weekend number and a testament to good-old-fashioned word of mouth.

Coming in at second place was the weekend's expected champion, Tower Heist (review and trailer).  The Ben Stiller/Eddie Murphy caper comedy scored $25 million, which was indeed slightly below expectations.  The film famously was supposed to be a guinea pig for 3-weeks after opening day VOD plan, which was junked after theater owners threatened to boycott the film. Whether it was a case of the marketing not being all that appealing (more on that in a second) or audiences merely opting to check out Puss In Boots, the $85 million Brett Ratner film may face an uphill battle for profitability.  The marketing was basically a victim of the movie's quality.  In that I mean, the film works surprisingly well as a low-key, character-driven comedic drama.  Yes, Murphy's shtick is amusing, but it's never allowed to dominate the picture nor undermine the reality of the narrative.  While that's good for the movie (Ben Stiller's scenes with Alan Alda and the entire first act are terrific), it presented Universal with a lack of 'buzz-worthy' moments or lines to market.  Confession - I passed on the press screening and had to force myself to go to a Friday morning matinee only to enjoy myself far more than expected.

The relatively flat trailers were the culprit, but the truth is that Ratner's picture works because it doesn't force the comedy or the action to places it doesn't belong.  As far as Ben Stiller debuts that aren't in the kid-friendly realm, this rates eighth right below Tropic Thunder, which also opened lower than some expected but displayed genuine legs at the end of summer 2008.  Among Eddie Murphy debuts that aren't overtly kid-friendly, this is fifth, just below his comeback Nutty Professor remake back in 1996 (of course, that $25.4 million debut would be around $45 million today).  Point being, this is a solid opening for both of the actual box office draws, squarely in their comfort zone but not reaching for the record books.  Just for fun, it's the second-biggest opener for Alan Alda (What Women Want opened to $33 million in December 2000), Matthew Broderick's second-biggest debut behind Godzilla, and Tea Leoni's third biggest debut (behind Jurassic Park III and Deep Impact).  And it's clearly Gabourey Sidibe's top opening, although the per-screen average for Precious's opening weekend ($108,000 per screen on eighteen screens two years ago this weekend!!) was a bit bigger.  The plus side is that the film should get decent word of mouth (although it earned just a B from Cinemascore) and will be the grownup movie-going alternative for pretty much the next month (it played 62% over-30).  Next weekend will tell the tale.

In the category of genuinely disappointing, you have A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas (review and trailer).  The mediocre third installment of the John Cho/Kal Penn comedy franchise earned $13 million, which is actually just below the $14.9 million earned by Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay back in April 2008 without the 3D price-bump (95% of tickets were for the 3D version, which makes sense as there were few 2D screens made available).  The film earned generally positive reviews (not from me though...), but the franchise may have run out of steam.  The picture received a B from Cinemascore and only cost $20 million, so New Line/Warner Bros should make money once it comes to DVD (the only reason we got a sequel is because the original did crazy DVD business).  Like the Austin Powers series (also from New Line), I think the original Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle is a masterpiece, my favorite comedy of its respective decade, while I kinda hate both sequels in both respective franchises.  This new one felt cheaper and more contained than the prior installments, which implied that the third film probably would have gone straight-to-DVD if not for the 3D gimmick.  Even if the film collapses and tops out under $30 million (an open question at this point of course), this series is cheap enough to merit another installment if the participants so choose.  But this time, all due respect to Elias Koteas (who I adore), try to find a place in your schedule to accommodate Christopher Meloni.

In holdover news, Paranormal Activity 3 (review and trailer) had another big drop but blew past the $84 million total domestic gross of Paranormal Activity 2.  With $95 million, the third installment should overtake the $109 million gross of the original Paranormal Activity (review) around Thanksgiving.  In Time dropped a solid 35% in weekend two, for a $24 million ten-day total.  The Andrew Niccol social inequality parable with Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried should top out at around its $35 million budget.  But since it's a Fox release, it may well double that in foreign markets (it's already at $15 million overseas).  Footloose is holding on, as it now has $45 million and should make a run for a $55-60 million finish.  It and Real Steel (now at $78 million off a $27 million debut) demonstrate a trend of sorts over the last year or so.  We're seeing smaller opening weekends but longer legs for comparably cheaper films.  That's obviously a good thing for theater owners, as they take bigger cuts of the ticket sales later in a film's release.  But it's bad for studios who want you to believe that theatrical is dying and Video On Demand is the great savior (which is why certain pundits are always screaming about box office slumps when The Lincoln Lawyer opens to less than Battle: Los Angeles).  Speaking of leggy runs, The Ides of March now has $36 million off a $10 million debut, which puts it on course to close with $40-45 million, with more if the film gets (unlikely) awards-season recognition.  And Moneyball, which probably will get Oscar nods, is now a $70 million.

That's it for this weekend.  Join us next weekend for the Adam Sandler comedy Jack and Jill (where he plays a brother and sister of the same family) and Immortals (Tarsam does 300... in 3D!!!).  Also debuting in limited release on Wednesday and wide release on Friday is Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar, the biopic starring Leonardo DiCaprio.  Confession #2 - I had ample opportunities to see it early, but I just couldn't muster up the enthusiasm (early critical word suggests my instincts were correct).  Maybe I'm a bad critic, but I'd rather use my 'leave my wife and kids alone on a weeknight to see Oscar bait' capital on awards contenders I actually want to see, like We Have to Talk About Kevin, The Girl With the Dragon TattooTinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy or War Horse (although my wife might tag along to the last two thanks to co-starring roles for Benedict Cumberbatch).  Anyway, until next time, keep reading, keep commenting, and take care.

Scott Mendelson                     


Lady Jane said...

You really don't think JACK & JILL is even remotely family-friendly? I thought that's exactly what it is -- a very soft-looking PG (no sex or raunch elements evident from the trailer) with broad physical humor in a domestic setting. I thought Sandler & Co. were squarely shooting for the family demo here.

corysims said...

Isn't Jack & Jill Sandler's second family holiday flick in the last couple of years?

Also, didn't know where to ask this Scott but, have you had a chance to see the extended cut of Green Lantern yet? I was curious to your thoughts considering you were kind to it, in comparison to everyone else.

Alan Worsley said...

Hi Scott,

slightly off topic but I am a regular reader of yours from the UK where Tinker, Tailor has been out for a while. Bit surprised it hasn't come out in the States yet, but see it as soon as you can. Especially if your wife is a Benedict Cumberbatch fan. Definitely my favourite movie of the year so far.

Scott Mendelson said...

You dirty, stinking, n0-good foreigners get all the cool movies first! Literally my two most anticipated year-end films (TTSS and Tintin) are both opening in your area months before the old USofA. I'm not generally an American Exceptionalist, but I call bah humbug!

Scott Mendelson said...

I did watch the eight-minute scene that made up the bulk of the nine minutes of new footage. It should have been cut in the first place, as it was redundant. It was the second act that needed help (and the third act that need extra material), as the first act was pretty strong as is.

Scott Mendelson said...

Until you said that, I had NO IDEA it was PG. To be fair, I haven't seen the trailer, but merely heard the premise and presumed it was a bawdy PG-13 affair. Noted and corrected.


Related Posts with Thumbnails